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Documents Reveal Earlier Fire Near Bridgeton Radioactive Waste

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Photo of Bridgeton Landfill Aug. 19, 2013 showing black liner material to be covered. (Photo: dnr.mo.gov/bridgeton/)

Photo of Bridgeton Landfill Aug. 19, 2013 showing black liner material to be covered. (Photo: dnr.mo.gov/bridgeton/)

CBS St. Louis (con't)

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BRIDGETON, Mo. (KMOX) - There are new concerns about an old problem at Bridgeton’s smoldering landfill.

Documents show that the ongoing fire at the Bridgeton Landfill is not the first to come close to nearby radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill.

“I am angry. I am so angry,” Bridgeton resident Dawn Chapman said about the revelations Thursday.

Chapman says a fellow activist, combing through Environmental Protection Agency documents from the 1990s discovered an underground fire that burned from 1993 to 1995. That one, Chapman says, was closer to the nearby nuclear waste than the current fire is.

She wants to know why the EPA didn’t tell residents about the fire.

“I am not even saying it’s deliberate but a mistake has been made, a huge mistake. Either they knew about it and didn’t take any consideration or they didn’t know about it and then shame on them for not knowing their own superfund documents,” Chapman said.

Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services has reached an agreement with the state to dig a trench between the burning trash and the radioactive West Lake Landfill. At a community meeting on the landfill fire Thursday night, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment said it was opposed to the trench, arguing the nuclear waste should be removed instead.

Chapman questions why the EPA, knowing about the 1990s fire at the site, continues to recommend leaving the waste where it is.

“That’s like flipping a coin with my kids’ lives. That’s betting against the safety of this community and the safety of my kids and I don’t appreciate it,” she said.

County Councilman Steve Stenger, who launched his campaign for County Executive on Tuesday, also attended the community meeting Thursday, pledging to take a closer look at the landfills. A representative for County Executive Charlie Dooley told the crowd that the county has landfill inspectors but he didn’t know if they had visited either the burning trash or the contaminated West Lake landfill.

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